Shining Some Light Into the Darkness: Mental Illness & Healthcare

Regardless of what many people may think, mental health is just as significant as physical health.  Especially within communities of color there is a stigma associated with mental illness and asking for help. I grew up in a household where depression and suicide was deemed issues that only affected privileged and non-religious people. In fact when I revealed to my family that I wanted to see a therapist at age 16 because of a recent suicide attempt, rather than getting any guidance, I was  reprimanded for not having faith in God and told to pray for forgiveness.

This is actually just one reason why I have yet to be officially diagnosed with depression, however, I have been for anxiety back in middle school by the school counselor who recommended that I go see a mental health professional after she witnessed me having a panic attack by my locker one morning. For some context I should note that by age 10 I had already attempted suicide three times. At the time I was struggling with self loathing, part of which had to do with my negative body image at the time, but it was also linked to my family’s homelessness. I don’t usually talk about this mostly because (until quite recently) I believed that this would reflect badly on my family. I became an overachiever, and a perfectionist that would break down at the mere idea of failing because in my mind I had to prove that I deserved love and to live. Failure meant that my existence was a mistake and I was a burden.

This was also when I was introduced to the alternative metal band, Linkin Park.  Having songs like By Myself, Don’t Stay and Numb made me feel like someone understood – something that I desperately wanted at the time. Lyrics like “I can’t hold on to what I want when I’m stretched so thin /It’s all too much to take in / I can’t hold on to end things watching everything spin / With thoughts of failure sinking in,” gave a voice to everything I was feeling that I couldn’t find a way to share with anyone. (To say I was obsessed with the band would be putting it mildly, their music and genre lead to my current taste in music which I will talk about in a future post.)  It may sound cliché but the emotion behind those songs just helped me kept pushing even at my lowest points because it proved that my feelings were valid and that I wasn’t alone.

Through cognitive  behavior modification, I did manage to work through my anxiety, during which time I actually moved on to listening to other bands, only going back to Linkin Park whenever I really needed them.  After all, anxiety and depression doesn’t  just disappear and there are times when your mind will take you right back to the same dark places you once left as if no progress was ever made. Fast forward to July 20, 2017. I was eating lunch with some co-workers when the news broke that the lead singer and songwriter of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had committed suicide. We were devastated. Here was a man that opened himself up in order to help others not lose themselves in the dark spaces of their minds, who ended up lost himself.

That day at the office was the first time that I had the urge to cry at a celebrity death which is why I was happy that I had like-minded people around me that day to talk through the news. In our discussion the topic of mental health-care came up. Sure, talking things out with family and friends is helpful, yet there are times when you just need that extra professional help, which was something I always believed myself to be priced out off due to my low income, but, as I learned that July afternoon, it turns out I was mistaken. So I sat down with my friend and co-worker, Marjorie,  who actually worked in health insurance for two years, in order to learn more about what is covered for those of us that may not have the means to pay for services out of pocket. I hope that this information helps anyone that has been looking for resources to get the treatment and care they need.

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2017 FFFWeek Day 3

With Fashion Week comes exclusive first-looks of new collections from various brands. The first one for the week was for the newest Fit for Me intimate apparel and casual wear. We were presented with a fashion show that showcased some of the latest style trends with styled with pieces from the collection by celebrity stylist, Denise Caldwell. Many of the looks demonstrated how the collection could work with items we already have in our own wardrobes transitioning from work to gym as well as highlighting just how smooth their seamless briefs and camis are under dresses. No panty lines! The collection will be available on Walmart.com and Amazon.com September 2017. Continue reading

2017 FFFWeek Day 1 & 2

It’s that time of year again – Full Figured Fashion Week! Considering how much fun last year was I simply had to make the effort and attend this year as well. So just like last year I’m sharing this experience with all of you as  I will be recapping the events of the week here on the blog as well as sharing my outfits for each day. Here’s to FFFWeek 2017!

Day 1 –  Rooftop Summer Fun

This year the festivities kicked off with a Curvy Music, Film and Art Festival.  With live music on the roof,  a screening of the PLUS! documentary by Sandra Chum and Kalisha Whitman and a showcase of curvy art, it was an afternoon well spent celebrating all things curvy and chic.

First thing I saw when I got up to the loft — The Curvy Zodiac! ( Art by Fashion Illustrator, Jonquel Norwood)

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When the 5-Year Plan is No Where to Be Seen

Since graduating from college there as been one question that I’ve been faced with, whether at  family events or networking receptions and of course job interviews. That question being,  “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?/What is your five year plan?”. In retrospect this is an absurd question as everyone’s  path meanders, sometimes even far away from what you initially studied in college and/or graduate school, especially in this day and age. It then should come as no surprise that one can easily begin to dread this question when you really have no answer.

My daily planners for the last 5 years, (the gold one on the far right is my current planner) each distinct and full of different projects and plans based on that period in my life.

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Slay Sista Slay

Happy Women’s History Month!  Having spent five years volunteering with a NYC-based women’s empowerment non profit, I can truly say that there is nothing more powerful than when women come together to advocate for the rights and advancement of other women. It is a notion that deserves to be celebrated and explored through various platforms of discussion. For this reason I’m hoping to cover topics relevant to female empowerment on the blog such as budgeting, the significance of creating a personal brand, as well as making time for self-love all through what is left of this month.  Of course fashion will still be featured,  including my final winter look for this season and some early spring looks that I’m excited to finally share, as it is a significant way we can empower each other, however, such self-expression is only one part of our experience as women.   Continue reading